Friday April 4, 2008
The session ends at midnight May 7. There are still literally thousands of bills that remain in the legislative pipeline. The House and Senate did about 150 minutes work yesterday before adjourning at about 5 p.m. for the annual intra-Capitol charity basketball tournament.
So when are they going to get down to a full day of actual business? Well, most Capitol lobbyists don’t care because they’re in the business of KILLING legislation, so time is their unpaid coworker.
For those who actually want to accomplish something this session, time is growing short.
And lawmakers are still kind of freaked out about going to actual voters for small campaign contributions, so there’s mounting pressure to come to a budget agreement before the end of the session, allowing them the whole summer to go hat in hand and leverage cash from the Citizens Election Fund.
Everything is set up for majority Democratics to heft a big, old waterlemon of bills on May Day, with only a week to figure out how to fit it into a bud vase.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
It’s noon and Blog-o-rama just hung up after a surprise call from a famous Civil War battlefield, where Jim Murphy, former News 12 Connecticut reporter, is faking antiques in the basement woodshop of his Gettysburg goat farm.
Jim and his wife Judith, a college communications officer, are totally into the Lady Huskies hoops team and are justly proud of this year’s version of the squad, which actually GRADUATES players.
They watch the games on streaming video, so that’s pretty hardcore.
“Considering the way the state has taken to Maya Moore,” Murph says of the freshman All American, “affection has reached the state of idolatry. I expect a ballot proposition this fall that would change her name to ‘My Amour.’”
Wednesday April 2, 2008
It’s 10:30 and about 20 under-dressed kids from Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk are fighting the fierce, cold spring gale to retain whatever hasn’t blown away from the Capitol lawn, past the horseback sun-splashed statue of General Lafayette and down Washington Avenue.
It’s one of the weirder news-conference scenes we’ve had here in recent years.
The plan was to kick off National Child Abuse Month by staking down 9,422 brown-paper lunch bags to commemorate each child abused in Connecticut last year.
So the school’s Senators Community Foundation decided to use bags to illustrate instances of abuse, which occur every 41 minutes.
The students started staking the bags at 7:30 and thousands of the mercifully biodegradable lunch sacks must have blown away by now.
They are skewered on long lines along the ground, but still the northwest wind is making the lines lift and rattle while bags are ripping off regularly. They’re blown by the wind across Capitol Avenue, then past the Revolutionary War hero’s statue and southeast down Washington Avenue.
“We wanted a nice sunny day and we got it,” said an optimistic Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk to reporters. “We didn’t ask about the wind. We just wanted to make sure we got a sunny day.”
Of the statewide incidents over the last year, 1,342 kids were abused in Fairfield County and 246 were abused in Norwalk.
Blog-o-rama think it’s appropriate that the bags were blowing away from the demonstration, since 90 percent of male felons lost in the state prison system were abused as kids; and 50 percent of the violent female prisoners.
Ruhana Da Silva, an 18-year-old senior said the point is to remind people to do something against child abuse.
“Many people do not realize that somewhere in Connecticut a child is abused as they watch their favorite one-hour show on television, that two children will be abused during the UConn women’s basketball game,” she said.
House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, R-Norwalk, whose district includes the high school said: “You know there’s an old saying that says ‘ a man never stands so tall than when he stoops to help a child’ and I think we could add to that that a man never sinks so low tghan when he abuses a child,” Cafero said.
Monday March 31, 2008
Today, shortly after the annual Legislative Guides were finally delivered to the Capitol in time for the last five weeks of the session (Sorry new Sen. Rob Russo, R-Bridgeport, you didn’t make it) the General Assembly again proved the earth is flat.
The Judiciary Committee a few minutes ago adjourned their meeting without even discussing two small, if interesting consumer bills, which are now sailing west toward India.
One would have overturned local restrictions against clotheslines. Yes, at a time when the newspaper classifieds are full of foreclosure notices and the nation is teetering on recession, there are still hoity-toity community associations that ban clotheslines.
The legislative summary is pretty amusing: “The bill generally prohibits municipalities and various other entities from imposing ordinances, regulations, or other restrictions prohibiting the drying of clothes using direct solar energy through the use of clotheslines, drying racks, or other apparatus in any residential setting.”
Another sensible bill, though too far ahead of its time, would have banned plastic bags from retail outlets. It would have established fines of up to $200 for a first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses.
Friday March 28, 2008
Republicans don’t usually get their way in this Democratic-dominated General Assembly.
But Rep. Kevin DelGobbo, R-Naugatuck, (whose name is conveniently left out of the alphabetical listing of House members in the 2007 Blue Book) scored one in the Appropriations Committee today.
DelGobbo, ranking member of the committee, persuaded his colleagues to amend a bill that would have given judges pay raises, without legislative action, whenever executive agency supervisors got them.
DelGobbo said he was worried about tying executive-branch decisions to the judicial branch.
DelGobbo pointed out that a nonpartisan staff study indicates that executive-branch salaries pump up about 6 percent a year.He then offered the amendment that would give judges and magistrates three-percent raises this year, but that’s it.
The latest pay hike for rank-and-file Superior Court judges occurred on January 1, 2007, bringing their salaries to $146,780 a year.
“I’m kind of persuaded by you,” Rep. Denise Merrill, D-Mansfield, committee co-chairwoman. The amendment passed in a voice vote and the overall legislation, which heads to the Senate, was approved easily.
.The original bill included lawmakers themselves tied into the automatic-raise mechanism, but that was excised, it being an election year and all.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Nestled deeeeep inside today’s Quinnipiac University Poll are a few potentially troubling revelations about state voters.
In questions posed to nearly 1,700 registered Connecticut voters about the leading presidential candidates,10 percent said they don’t think Hillary Clinton (remember when she insisted that her unmarried surname of Rodham should be included?) would make a good president because she’s too liberal; 25 percent said she lacks integrity; and 19 percent “Just don’t like her.”
I think the sexists, however, emersed themselves in the 22 percent who answered “Nothing in particular” because they didn’t want to join the tiny 3 percent who admitted that a woman should not be president.
In McCain’s negative question, 53 percent said he would not make a good president because of his stand on the war;14 percent blamed his positions on the economy; and 3 percent said he lacks integrity. While 19 percent said he’s “too old,” I believe that many among the 22 percent who said “Nothing in particular” were into the age thing as well.
Finally, among the list of reasons why people think Obama might not be a good president, 69 percent said he lacks experience;11 percent said he’s too liberal; and 5 percent admitted “racial motivations.” But down at the bottom, in the “nothing in particular” line, 18 percent laundered what Blog-o-rama fears could be racial prejudices in the year 2008.
Wednesday March 26, 2008
Relax people, it was just a coincidence that Bridgeport Day in the Capitol fell on Realtor Day.
Despite the fact that 5,200 city homes are enmeshed in the subprime-mortgage crisis, Blog-o-rama saw no evidence of blazer-wearing, glad-handing Realtors offering fire-sale prices to Bridgeport’s citizen lobbyists for their homes.
As usual, Gregg Dancho, director of Connecticut Beardsley Zoo, was front-and-center on the PR front, today sporting a beautiful boa constrictor around his neck as a conversation starter.
I walked up, stroked its cold-blooded back and dubbed the boa “Joe Ganim” in honor of the snake that keeps on snaking, saddling the city for a cool $200 a hour in the never-may-end civil trial in Waterbury with spurned Steel Point developer Alex Conroy. That’s happening while Ganim crosses off calendar days down at the Fort Dix federal prison.
Dancho’s zoo got about $250,000 in the budget approved a few hours later in the Appropriations Committee. Sen. Judi Freedman, R-Westport, said it wasn’t enough.
“That’s peanuts,” she suggested in a zoo pun.
Tuesday March 25, 2008
Two bills that never even made it to the final agenda of the Judiciary Committee yesterday were the revised civil-unions law and the legislation that would have required gun makers to have firing pins that would etch serial numbers on bullet cartridges.
The co-chairmen of the committee, Rep. Mike Lawlor, D-East Haven, and Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, decided it wasn’t prudent to pursue either bill in the short session of the General Assembly.
The cartridge-etching technology is controversial, as gunmakers claim it’s not a foolproof way to trace a weapon to a crime. They also say it would add up to $200 more per weapon for consumers.
“Our goal this year was to get the discussion going,” Lawlor said over the phone a little while ago.
On the gay-rights legislation, McDonald admitted that the case pending in the state Supreme Court, in which activists claim that the civil-union law is a violation of equal-protection provisisons of the constitution, is problematic.
Though it was heard before the Supremes last May, the high court has yet to rule.
It could throw the issue back to lawmakers, ordering them, like the Massachusetts high court a few years back, to enact a marriage law; uphold the civil-union law as constitutional; or send the whole thing back to the lower court.
So given a chance to punt, the committee did.
Except, quietly nestled in legislation approved by the committee yesterday on probate courts, is a requirement – resulting from complaints of gays and lesbians – that probate judges waive fees for name changes as a result of civil unions.